Letters: August 14, 2014

Published on: August 13, 2014

Dear Editor,

Recently Jane Keegan, SCC’s Community Association president, said that the ballot question in the SCC referendum of 2012 was unclear because it contained several questions that were answered by a single “YES” or “NO” vote.  However, it looks like the referendum scheduled for December 2014 regarding the proposed new theater and its financing may repeat these same mistakes and the resulting confusion.

There are actually two issues on the table, and these matters are not necessarily connected at the hip.  First, there is the matter of whether or not we want a new theater.  Second, there’s a question about whether we should finance the theater project using what is essentially a $3,000,000 bank loan, regardless of what supporters say to the contrary. These matters should be handled separately.

Regarding the proposed new theater, it’s unclear what the requirements are that have led to the apparent decision that a new, stand-alone theater is needed to replace the existing Rollins Theater. It appears that the proposed theater is based on complaints voiced by the Performing Arts Company (PAC) about the current Rollins Theater, i.e., nearby parking, a lobby, public restrooms, etc.  If we assume these are SCCCA’s requirements for a theater, the CA Board should tell the community what other potential options have been considered to meet these requirements.

If the current Rollins Theater is inadequate, keep in mind that it is only used 17 percent of the time during the peak season (November through February) and is used less at other times. What about an option of using the Community Hall on South Pebble Beach?  The Community Hall has a seating capacity more than double the proposed theater project and — importantly — the Community Hall is already scheduled for improvements during 2015. Complaints about the option of using the Community Hall — inadequate dressing rooms for the performers, the depth of the stage or the quality of the sound system — can be addressed for far less than the $2¾ to $3 million estimated by PAC for a totally new theater. Full, public deliberation must be given to options.

Further, construction of a free-standing new theater can be viewed as a very wasteful expenditure when such a project could be combined into a multi-use building that would contain a new function room such as the Florida Room, a spacious lobby and café (think Kings Point North Clubhouse) and administration and club facilities as required.

Turning to financing, there are those in the community who strongly believe in debt avoidance, but that isn’t the total issue.  Many of us prefer the pay-as-you-go route to protect the majority of the membership from spending money for nice-to-have projects advanced by minor groups of members and non-residents. What could we do to improve our community (and our individual property values) for $1,000,000, $2,000,000 and $3,000,000 that could enhance our individual property values, other than a new theater? The current proposal asks the community to tie up all (or most) of the capital improvement fund (transfer fees) for the next seven years; all options and priorities need to be fully explored before restricting the community from making any other significant capital fund improvements until 2023!

Indeed, I think that the Board should be given the right to incur some debt in order to accomplish selected projects, but this debt must be contained within prescribed limits (amount and time frames) and not voted upon every time a group or club comes up with its own pet project.  Much of this is already authorized in our current Bylaws.

In summary, we need to rethink the proposed referendum slated for this coming December.  Don’t make the community feel like it is being railroaded by the PAC, non-residents or a single member of the Board. The CA Board should present the community a menu of viable options, including financing within prescribed limits.

Edward Feder
Sun City Center

Dear Editor:

Residents of Sun City Center will be voting this December on whether to approve the building of a new theater near the Atrium complex on North Pebble Beach Blvd. I’m writing to support the project and to counter disinformation that has been circulated by opponents.

I’m a (retired) actor and at once a retired stockbroker who spent 28 years with Wall Street firms. Raising a family in New Canaan, Connecticut while working on commission the whole while taught me valuable lessons about risk and reward. The plan worked out by the Performing Arts Club, contrary to what residents have been told, is all reward and no risk. Northern Trust Bank will finance the project, with repayment coming entirely from transfer taxes paid on future real estate sales. Should the economy weaken and sales drop off, the bank will suffer the consequences. No lien or other restriction will be placed on the theater itself … only against taxes that already exist. There will be no assessments.

I live in Kings Point. Unfortunately, I can’t vote. But the state-of-the-art theater being planned will be a boon to everyone’s property values, because it will enhance the quality of life for all who live in the area. It will serve a variety of arts disciplines, not merely theatrical productions. Senior citizens will neither have to stand on line in the rain to enter the premises nor exit the building to find a rest-room, as is now the case at the Rollins Theater. I urge my friends in Sun City Center to vote “yes” on this fine project.

Robert Lockwood Mills
Sun City Center

Dear Editor,

We are being asked to approve financing for a new theater because of a range of problems with the “Rollins.”

I contend that, as stated in a recent letter to the editor, modifications to the Community Hall would serve our community much better than financing a brand-new building.

Regardless of what the proponents say, financing is the correct word for what they are asking. As the old adage goes, “if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck … it is a duck.”

We would be borrowing money, at an interest rate for a period of time. How is this not financing?

Although the original amount of $3.5 million was recently reduced to under $3 million, the amount of money involved has little meaning to the issue of whether or not this would be a “debt.” While payments would not come directly out of individual pockets, they would come out of our collective one. No matter how you look at it, it is deficit spending on our community’s part. While deficit spending is in some cases necessary (i.e. due to an emergency), deficit spending is never a good idea. Look at what it has done to the Federal government.

Finally, the assumption is that home sale fees would pay for this expenditure; there is no guarantee that future sales will continue at historical rates. What happens if the bottom drops out of the market?

I urge one and all to reject this issue when it comes to a vote.

J.M. Votava
Sun City Center

Dear Editor,

More than 20 years ago, The New York Times … reported on the number of closings of golf courses in enclosed retirement community [sic] after build out and the developer leaving. These courses could not or would not not sustain themselves on membership dues. Basically, the builders were able to ask for anywhere’s [sic] from $5,000-$50,000 extra for golf course frontage condo or home sales; small initiation and yearly play fees. This article was pinpointing the Carolina communities at the time. Since then, it is not uncommon for this to follow suit in Florida. It’s the norm. If the players cannot support it, they go fallow. Only those [golf courses] that were state road or highway frontage were worth selling and developing into shops or more houses.

Letting land go fallow is quite beautiful and the wildlife comes back. Just as in the 1970s when Canterbury Lane [in] Kings Point as a dead end and fields beyond, we would time our walks to see the fox come out to cross over to the one golf course — the Executive. We’d enjoy the red tail hawks swoop and sometimes play with our golf balls on the back nine; the rabbits loved the place, the bulls fenced in — in the now-Glouster [sic] area — liked to watch us. A few Florida panthers would take the scenic route … and it goes on and on. …

So it’s not the recession folks, or not even the fact that golf is not the favorite “businessman’s” entertainment anymore. When the developer leaves, it will close what they probably have been subsidizing — golf courses that cannot sustain themselves with membership. This is a common occurance [sic] all over for years. (This is versus the city business executives of the East Coast that join at $100 m and pay 25-50 m a year to play.)

Golf course maintenance is one of the best income landscaping businesses around. So rest back in your chairs folks and enjoy what’s to come. We never had any wildlife trouble, Nature balanced itself, cats, bobcats, snakes, rats and all — not one bit of trouble when nature ran the place. The owls, bobcats, what a life to see. And all the babies in the Spring.

Lezlie Pitzer
Sun City Center